Bell: With marijuana-on-Main issue, Breckenridge playing with fire
August 22, 2014
On the marijuana on Main St. debate, the pro argument centers on the inequity created by allowing some businesses to operate on Main while others are banned. On the surface this is a valid point; however, it either ignores or downplays the adverse impact on the community over the long run.
In the 15 years that I’ve lived in the community, the town has seen tremendous growth. That growth has not come by accident, rather by a significant amount of planning and cultivation of an image that has been greeted with a remarkable response. We often take for granted the unique charm that has been crafted over many years by town planners, staff, and community members.
Breckenridge has it, and it is charm. It keeps people coming back year after year. It is not an accident, rather tirelessly planned. It takes a long time to develop and a relatively short time to lose. It is the intangible community lifeblood from which all have reaped tremendous benefits.
Many may not agree that we risk losing our charm by allowing marijuana on Main St. I would only say that the words charm and marijuana don’t exactly fit hand in glove. No evidence exists to date that the erosion has begun with one existing shop, which is largely considered a novelty. My belief is this will take years to unfold as tourists with different values seek the same charm in other mountain towns. The downside risk is real and the upside is questionable. Planners should avoid this type of asymmetric risk, with more downside than upside, while seeking the opposite scenarios.
As the town ponders the biggest image change in decades, I’m simply asking to reflect on the success of our past and our legacy for the future.
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